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Re-defining What it Means to be Smart
Changing Values and Definitions

I never understood the meaning of the song "Imagine" when I was young. It didn't hit me till I was in my 40's. When I was younger I was too busy achieving my goals to pay attention, I guess. Back then some of my goals were to get what are called "good" grades, go to a highly ranked university and then work for a major corporation.

In my 20's I achieved all of those goals in the USA and never once thought of killing myself, but 20 years later I was living in South America, trying to help homeless children, trying to write something which could help change the world, and trying to prevent teen suicide...yet often feeling very depressed and frequently even suicidal. So did my EI go up or down in the past 20 years?

I would say it never changed.

I don't think it was my innate level of emotional intelligence which changed. Instead I simply started paying attention to my feelings. And I stopped accepting the values and beliefs which were taught to me when I was young. I started thinking and feeling for myself. This is something which isolated me from nearly everyone, as most people let others tell them what to think, believe, do and even how to feel. Most people accept the commonly held values, that's why they are commonly held and so hard to change. Life is easier if you are a conformist, that's for sure. But the conformists don't change the world. They simply maintain the status quo.

People have said that Daniel Goleman's 1995 book "redefined what it means to be smart." Now I think we can safely say this is true. He, with the help of others like Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, have defined it to mean a smart person is a content conformist.

Steve Hein
Salta, Argentina
June 7, 2006


Lyrics to "Imagine"
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